The transplant service at The Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) is one of the largest in the country and the first to reach 1000 live donor kidney transplants.
The kidney transplant program here has been running since 1963, just a few years after the first ever deceased donor transplant in the US , and the first living donor transplant was performed here in 1973.
Director of Nephrology at the RMH Professor Steve Holt said the transplant program has completed more transplants than any other unit in Australia and is the first service in the country to get to 1000 live transplants, although we have completed more than 2200 transplants from deceased donors.
“Every successful kidney transplant is an important milestone in our eyes, but when the 1000th live donor operation was approaching it did make me wonder who the patient was going to be. Whilst transplantation at our centre is now relatively routine, that gift is unbelievably welcomed by our recipients and making it a success every time is such a vital part of our work” Prof Holt said.
This year our service has completed ~100 kidney transplants, 15 of which have been from living donors.
A/Prof Peter Hughes who is the head of transplantation at RMH and also the director of the Australian and New Zealand Paired Kidney Exchange Program said
“Transplantation is a really rewarding part of medicine because it’s an area you can see people have their lives transformed by a transplant. It is something that makes people healthier, feel better and allows them to regain their lifestyle”
He went on to explain that there are huge advantages to recipients receiving a live donor kidney, “in my mind the Rolls Royce of transplantation is seeing the recipient receive the kidney before even starting dialysis.”
Rebecca Naran was by chance the 1000th live donor, donating one of her kidneys to her husband Veeran, who has suffered from a genetic condition leading to kidney failure.
“Initially Veeran didn’t want me to do it, but I started the testing because I wanted to do it” Rebecca said.
Veeran is still overwhelmed by the amazing gift his wife has given him.
“It was a surreal moment when we found out Bec was compatible. To find out your life partner is a match to you in more than one way, once we knew the kidney had stuck, was really an amazing moment” Veeran said.
Transplant surgeons Ms Nancy Suh and Ms Emma Tully completed the operations on Rebecca and Veeran which were incredibly successful.
“Bec is a very healthy lady and we did all the investigations and cross matching and decided she was suitable – myself and Emma Tully did the operations and everything went really well and their both recovering extremely well” Dr Suh said.
Ms Tully reiterated that given they were both young and healthy it made them great patients to operate on, even with the added pressure given what was at stake.
“You know that you have parents of two little kids that are both undergoing surgery at the same time which puts the pressure on for different reasons” Ms Tully said.